Interview: Aephanemer (French Melodic Death Metal)

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A few weeks ago, I reached out to a French MDM band called Aephanemer. These guys are making classic keyboard driven MDM relevant in France’s modern metal scene one song a time. Their new album, Prokopton is out March 22 and it is a true throwback to the bands who made this genre great. After taking in my advance listen, I had goosebumps all over. I hadn’t heard a record quite like it since I first took in Children of Bodom’s Hatebreeder and it was killer to hear an established, seasoned band taking that style of metal seriously in 2019. Take a listen and read the interview!

MM: How did you all come to meet and start Aephanemer in the first place?

Martin: Hello Mike and thank you for this interview! Actually at the beginning Aephanemer was a solo project that I founded in early 2014 when I released Know Thyself, our first EP. After the release of this EP, I decided to recruit a full team to be able to give shows. Within a few months Marion joined the band as singer and rhythm guitar player, and Mickaël as drummer. Lucie our bass player joined the band in late 2017 when our former bass player Anthony left the band.

MM: What is the local metal scene like in Toulouse, France?

Martin: Well actually the local metal scene in Toulouse is pretty much like in the rest of the country: there are actually many metal bands in various genres, but the biggest ones are mostly into extreme metal or sludge/stoner. Melodic Death Metal is not a popular genre among French bands!

MM: Everyone, name your favorite track on Memento Mori! 🙂

Martin: Probably “Unstoppable”, but it is a very difficult question
Marion: I name “Memento Mori”, the title track! I hope we’ll never stop to play this one live!
Mickaël: Absolutely no idea
Lucie: “Rage and Forgiveness”!

MM: What is the meaning behind the band name? Who came up with it and were there any other names in place before arriving at your final decision?

Martin: “Aephanemer” is a merge between two French words : “éphémère” (ephemeral) and “fânée” (folded) which are two words related to the autumn season, that I particularly appreciate. And it is actually my sister who found the name, which was much better than anything I was able to find on my own. So I don’t remember any other ideas I had before that!

MM: Directed at Marion: What’s your opinion on the modern music industry treating “female fronted” like a genre? Sure, it helps in narrowing down a specific sound for listeners, but do you find it absolutely necessary when describing bands?

Marion: I thank you very much for this question! As you somewhat pointed out, calling “female-fronted” a genre might be seen as an instrument of promotion of women in Metal, but, to be honest, I think it’s quite the opposite.
What’s the point in putting Arch Enemy and Nightwish in the same category, since Floor Jansen and Alissa White-Gluz vocal styles are so different? “Female-fronted” comes with the idea of a generic female vocal sound and it’s very reductive.
Plus, take for example a band like Arkona, Masha is the voice and charismatic presence fronting the band, but qualifying the band of female-fronted will lead to forget she’s in fact the mastermind of the band, composing all the songs and recording many instruments besides the vocals. Her true role in the band would be made invisible by this classification.
Words are important, they reflects as much as they shape our representation of the world. I think this classification says very little of women in metal, but says a lot of our collective representation of women in society. If we want women taking their rightful place in metal, we have to not restrict them to a generic or even a cosmetic role, but to recognize the variety of their skills, personalities and works, just as we do with men.

MM: Was it always the goal of the band to play melodic death metal?

Martin: To be honest playing Melodic Death Metal is not really a “goal” but more the consequence of my musical tastes. This genre is my favorite by far so it influences the music I create, but I also appreciate many other genres and I guess it explains why our music contains some elements which don’t belong to MDM.

MM: Everyone, name your favorite concert experience apart from Aephanemer.

Marion: I would say Dark Tranquillity at Hellfest 2015. This is a truly memorable moment when you have finally the occasion to see for the first time THAT band you love for so long. Of course, they were amazing. Mickael Stanne has this deep connection with the crowd, and we were in the front row. So it’s a very special memory I’m glad to share with my band mate Martin ☺
Martin: I totally agree with Marion!
Mickaël: I would say a quite old show in 2008 with Sonata Arctica, Pangan’s Mind and Vanishing Point. It was one of these few nights where all the bands were at their best, and it was in a brand new venue with a terrific sound! Aside from this one, my favorite band live would have to be Powerwolf, love the band and their shows are always excellent and get you a huge smile on your face!
Lucie: Avatar at Download festival in Paris! Johannes Eckerström is a fantastic frontman, plus the whole band has fun on stage and seems genuinely happy. Their stage decor and atmosphere really helps getting in their universe, it is amazing!

MM: Now, talk about your favorite Aephanemer show.

Martin: Our show at Wacken last year! The audience was so awesome!  
Marion: Our show in Wacken in 2018 was quite a milestone for us, but I’d pick another show the same year, at Warhorns festival, in the UK. I’m choosing this one because for me it perfectly recalls this particular feeling of joy and gratitude you sense when you come to play very far from home (UK are not that far from south of France, but we didn’t come by plane, but by car and ship so it was a pretty long travel :D) and are welcomed by warm and lovely people and a very engaged and supportive crowd. Not to mention Kalmah was headlining and apart the fact sharing the stage with them was awesome, it was our first time seeing them live. Even if it was a bit frustrating to not being able to stay until the end because we had so few hours to sleep and so much road before us, it was an awesome night, and I’m grateful for it ☺
Mickaël: It would be our show at the Rock Metal Camp in 2016. It was our first “big” stage and the organization was excellent: a lot of people in the audience (which gave us an awesome welcome), a very nice crew and even a small apartment to spend the night!!
Lucie: My first concert with Aephanemer, on February 2018! It was not the most crowded, nor the biggest stage, but the adrenaline rush was intense and I really felt like I found my place.

MM: Directed at Lucie: People tend to always forget about bass players in this genre, unless they also happen to be the vocalist. As a musician and songwriter, I know how important bass is in metal. Do you often take an active role in the songwriting process?

Lucie: The question of my role in the process has not arisen yet, I joined the band after the songs were written! I however take more pleasure in interpretation than writing, and I trust Martin 100%, bass lines so far are amazing!

MM: Directed at Mikael: In your years playing MDM, how has your drumming evolved? What techniques are you currently striving to improve and what advice can you give for new players of extreme metal drumming?

Mickaël: It’s hard to describe such an evolution. It mainly follows my technical progression on the drums, always trying to improve myself: handle faster tempos, work on smoothness, stamina, learn new patterns, etc … I am currently working to improve my blast beat, which I just recently added to my skillset. In Aephanemer, for the drums, everything is written before it is played, therefore there are some parts that I wouldn’t naturally play and I learn new things this way. I also often cover some songs I like at home to learn patterns from other drummers and find my own ideas. I am far from being an expert on drumming, so my main advice for new players would be to play things you like and start with easy songs first, don’t try to tackle some technical death metal head on. Nowadays, you can find a lot of resources on the web (lessons, exercises, playthrough, …) to start at your level and thus avoiding to learn some wrong moves trying stuff too hard at the beginning (It’s really hard to forget wrong moves, trust me !).

MM: Directed at Martin: What steps do you take to differentiate your lead melodies in Aephanamer? I’ve noticed that many bands of this style repeat themselves often when it comes to melodies and hooks. This doesn’t seem to be the case with your band, so I’m curious as to your general writing process. Feel free to discuss music theory, or to just ramble at will. 🙂

Martin: Well the melodies are the most important thing for me when I write songs. I always look for good melodies first, which is the hard part, and then I build songs around them. And of course I try to create different ambiances every time, but this is very subjective. I often spend weeks trying to find the best possible note to play at one specific moment in a melody, because for me it changes completely its feeling, while most people would not really hear the difference or think it is important.
I know music theory but I don’t use it at all when I write songs. Right now if you ask me which notes or scales or modes we use in one of our songs, I will not be able to give you the answer. I never had music lessons, so my approach to music is mostly intuitive. There is also a big part of trial and error through years. My first songs that I wrote when I was 14 are absolutely awful (and unreleased of course)!

MM: What are some of the band’s non-metal influences?

Martin: I listen to a lot of Slavic traditional music since they have awesome melodies. I also love video games music, and classical music. But I’m not an expert at all in classical music, and I actually only listen to the “most melodic” one like Mozart, Beethoven, and Pachelbel… Piano covers of metal songs is also something awesome.

MM: Assuming everyone is a Children of Bodom fan, name your favorite COB album! COB debates are common on my site, which is why I ask. Mine is Hatebreeder!

Martin: Hard question. I would say Follow the Reaper, but tomorrow it might be Hatebreeder.
Marion: I must say I have a very special feeling for Are You Dead Yet, since I discovered them with this album and listened to it a lot back in the days. I can’t say this is their best though, nor the one I prefer to listen today. Follow the Reaper is the one I’m returning to the most regularly!
Mickaël: Wouldn’t call myself a fan, but I would say Follow the Reaper
Lucie: I’ll go for Hatebreeder! I discovered COB with this album, best memories!

Whole band: Thank you much for this great interview and very interesting questions! ☺

Aephanemer are:

Martin Hamiche – Lead Guitar
Marion Bascoul – Vocals & Rythm Guitar
Lucie Woaye Hune – Bass
Mickaël Bonnevialle – Drums

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